|Handing over the keys to "the Toaster" to my friend, Dave|
Preparing to spend the next two years at the International Centre in Le Puy has been a mix of excitement, detachment and hard work over these past two months. At times I felt as though I were free floating in space and at other times I was just focused on getting things done.
The opportunity to live and work in France has been a lifelong dream and when it seemed as though I’d never finish emptying my condo, dealing with paperwork or packing light, I’d think about that dream and keep moving.
|Signing over the title to the new owners|
I thought I lived simply in my three-story condo, but found out I had accumulated much stuff over the years. So I divided my worldly goods into four groups: things to sell, things to give away, things to store, things to take with me to France. Since I calculated that upon my return to the USA I would live in a much smaller living space, it was easier to detach myself from my 54-inch dining room table. Electronic equipment might not survive two years of storage, so out that went. Clothes that had been hanging in my closet for years without use were obvious give-aways. However, the hardest things to unload were the countless scrapbooks of photos, published newspaper and magazine articles, travel slides and many books, so I saved them together with my bulky TV that had both DVD and video capability.
Then there was my car. While it was going to a good cause (my friends were giving the car to their 25-year-old niece who is trying to start her life again) and I was getting my hoped-for price for it, it meant a loss of freedom of movement and maybe a bit of my identity since it was a distinctive boxy car that looked like a toaster. Since my car was one of the last things I did in this whole down-sizing process, perhaps it made me face the reality that I was leaving everything familiar and about to steep myself in a new culture, a new language, a new continent and a new experience. Once I step on that plane, however, I’ll be ready for a new adventure, a new identity and a new way of life, so I’m up for the task!
|The keys on my key chain have gradually disappeared: no car, no condo, no furniture, no job, nothing but the freedom to pursue a new adventure without being burdened with lots of stuff.|